When you promote your best performer to a leadership position:
- Good things happen if they have been ready for the next challenge and maybe even a little bored or burned out by the routine work they are so good at doing
- Bad things happen if they love the work they have been doing and you just added much work (the management) they do not like
- Negative repercussions occur when they have no desire to coordinate and lead the efforts of others and/or have no leadership experience, inherent skills or desire to work directly with employees
- The biggest challenges occur in the form of company stagnation and mediocrity when they do not possess the inner desire to develop other people and access their potential
Here are some skills that are very often missing as you promote or hire someone to management that you may need to purposefully work to develop:
- Communicate expectations effectively. A manager must clearly formulate their expectations, and verbalize them in a way that makes sense to the employee. The employee needs to be paying attention, and verbalize back what they have heard. A head nod means the expectations may not even have made it to their ears, much less their brain to process, voice concerns and in the end – agree to do their best.
- Accountability – You can’t hold people accountable to what they didn’t agree to. You must find a way to measure what you hope to hold people accountable for. And then you must have the tough, but effective conversations when expectations are not met.
- Delegation – In order to effectively delegate, the manager must transfer ownership of the task. This requires setting the expectation (see above), obtaining genuine agreement from the employee, setting a timetable and following up (see accountability).
- Engage in productive conflict – ‘“Yes” employees’ appear agreeable, yet don’t produce. Silent employees hope you will go away so they can continue doing things as they always have. Strong, solid performers honestly believe they know better. Quiet, undiscovered employees require conversations that push them, and probably the manager, outside their comfort zone.
- Setting goals – Managers are often good at accepting the goals set for them. However, it is never as powerful to work towards something you feel you must do to keep your job than it is to engage the manager in conversation about their goals for their department or area, match those with the company goals, and include goals to help them professionally develop. And, write them down. What do your managers see as possibilities in their department?
- Project completion – Getting from where you are to where you want to be cannot be accomplished simply by working really hard and wanting to get there. Ambitious goals require a plan that takes into account where we want to be in three months, and counting back to what we need to do each of the three months, this week and today; and do that daily.
- Coaching team members – probably the critical skill most often lacking – but assumed to exist in charismatic and inspirational leaders. Coaching is having a series of conversations with an individual in order to connect with them, assist them to engage in their professional development, and to be able to discover their potential and accomplish more that they or you thought they could.
What professional development do your managers need from you?